Disputed penalty puts Melford on back foot



Long Melford 1

Crane Sports 2

The experience and stamina of the visitors took them into the next round, despite heroic battling by Long Melford.

The game swung towards the Ipswich-based side from the 33rd minute when they were awarded a controversial penalty, and from that moment onwards gained momentum, while Melford seemed to have been slightly deflated.

The opening period was scrappy and punctuated by infringements, and as the result of one of these late challenges Melford lost Ben Simpson through injury after 23 minutes.

Early on it was Melford who looked the better team with Martin Westcott testing out keeper Jack Foster with a header, and in another attack Tim Attwood sliced wide.

After 18 minutes, Melford took the lead with a peach of a goal. Forcing his way down the left flank, a great cross from Ashley Williams found 16-year-old Tom Wingfield, who with his back to the goal hooked the ball over keeper Foster and into the net.

A golden opportunity fell to Cranes with a free-kick, but the shot ballooned well over the bar from close range.

On 33 minutes, Cranes forced a corner, taken by Brett.

Although it was cleared by Melford, the referee called back play and awarded a penalty to the visitors.

Despite the Melford protests, Brett found the net in neat fashion.

Cranes opened the second period in emphatic fashion, forcing several corners within the space of six minutes.

Melford defended well, including a fine save by keeper Sam Mansfield from Nathan Woollard, the Melford custodian making his first appearance after being hospitalised through a horrendous car crash early in the season.

Again Melford came back with Justin Crissell heading inches wide and Attwood’s shot narrowly clearing the crossbar.

The winner came on 82 minutes when Melford failed to deal conclusively within their own box, the ball finding the burly Craig Simpson and his shot through a ruck of players found the net just inside the goal post, eluding the fingertips of the Melford custodian.

That really signalled the finish to the game, with Cranes running down the clock, and deservedly progressing to the semi-final.

Long Melford: Mansfield, Attwood, Ashley Williams, Guyon (Bayliss 76), Crissell, Owen, Durell, B Simpson (Hubbard 23), Westcott, W Wingfield, T Wingfield. Unused subs: Aldous, Gamage, Prince, Irwin.